Mascherano Leaves Liverpool

AIDAN KELLY: So will Liverpool supporters shed many tears following Javier Mascherano’s departure?

Don’t count on it. While Xabi Alonso was a huge loss in midfield, from which the Reds are still trying to recover, Mascherano’s Barcelona move is unlikely to have the same detrimental effect on the team.

While the Argentinean’s tough tackling and distribution will be missed, his petulance (the sending off against Man United in 2008) and unprofessionalism/selfishness (his refusal to play against Man City last week while still on the payroll) won’t be.

Quite frankly, the defensive midfielder — considered to be amongst the world’s best in that position — wasn’t at Anfield long enough, or a participant of enough memorable games during his three seasons, to come remotely close to earning himself a place alongside the Liverpool greats.

His finest achievements were helping the Reds get to the Champions League final in 2007, and playing an influential part in guiding Liverpool to second in the Premier League in 2008-2009.

Will Mascherano’s departure hurt Liverpool short term? We shall see, but not if Raul Meireles has anything to do with it.

The signing of the Portugal international for reportedly half the price of Mascherano looks like a good piece of business.

Known for his passing and tackling, and guaranteed to offer more in the creativity department, he played in all four of Portugal’s World Cup games this summer and scored the opener against North Korea.

Meireles said at the weekend that manager Roy Hodgson was key to him signing for Liverpool because he “worked so hard” to get him. Hodgson’s persuasive qualities seem also to have helped keep Fernando Torres and Dirk Kuyt at Anfield, while Fulham left back Paul Konchesky – along with an unnamed striker – are ready to join the fold before today’s (Tuesday) transfer window deadline.

So after almost a year of speculation, Mascherano and his family have finally departed where they didn’t want to be, but there have been worse weeks in Liverpool’s recent history.

KAREN PATEL: for Liverpool, Mascherano leaving is extremely poignant.  It shows just how far the club have fallen under their current ownership when the midfield now consists of an ageing Christian Poulsen, a young Lucas and unknown Raul Meireles.

Not only have Liverpool lost one of the best defensive midfielders in the world, but they have failed to replace him with someone of at least a similar calibre. Poulsen is a poor signing, and we don’t know how Raul Meireles is going to settle in.  The other option is Lucas and possibly Steven Gerrard, but that’s it for central midfield.

That is a far cry from two years ago, when the fans on the Kop sang the song ‘Best Midfield in the League’ with Xabi Alonso and Mascherano forming the basis for the likes of Gerrard, Torres, Kuyt and Riera to thrive.  It is testament to how far Liverpool have fallen under their current ownership, and until Hicks and Gillett leave, the decline will continue.

Mascherano was not perfect of course, he had a questionable temperament and I will never forget when he was sent off in a defeat to Manchester United a few seasons ago simply because he didn’t know how to shut up.  What he contributed to the team however, will never be forgotten.  His tenacity, determination, energy and passion helped Liverpool hang on to many wins and fight back from many possible defeats.  With Gerrard preferring to play up front with Torres, where is that bite going to come from now? Who is going to chase down everyone wearing an opposition shirt and command the middle of the pitch?

Someone needs to step up to this vital task, because it will make the difference between a good season for Liverpool, and a bad season.

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